Are you just getting started with Google Forms? Never heard of it before? Either way, here are some tips to help you get going with Google’s powerful form tool and start building surveys and forms online for free.
What the Heck Is Google Forms?
If you already know about Google Forms, feel free to skip ahead. If you don’t, here’s the crash course. We’ll go over the basics, and get you brushed up on what Google Forms is and how you can start using it right away.
Google Forms is a free survey tool that’s part of G Suite—Google’s complete office suite (although some people refer to it all as Google Docs). The other main services included in the cloud-based suite are Sheets (Excel), Docs (Word), and Slides (PowerPoint).
RELATED: What is G Suite, Anyway?
Google Forms lets you collect information from people via personalized quizzes or surveys. You can then connect the info to a spreadsheet on Sheets to automatically record the answers. The spreadsheet then populates with the responses from the quiz or survey in real-time. This makes Google Forms one of the easiest ways to save data directly into a spreadsheet.
With Forms, you can collect RSVPs, start surveys, or create quizzes for students with a simple online form. You can share your form via email, a direct link, or on social media and ask everyone to participate.
And since Forms is an online tool, you can share and collaborate with multiple people on the same form in real-time.
Have you heard enough? Let’s get started!
How to Sign Up for a Google Account
Before you can use Google Forms, you have to sign up for a Google (an @gmail) account. If you already have one, feel free to move on to the next section. If not, we’ll go over the simplest way to create a Google account and get you set up with Forms.
Head over to accounts.google.com, click “Create Account,” and then select “For Myself.”
On the next page, you provide some information—first and last name, username, and password—to create your account.
You also have to verify your phone number so Google can make sure you’re not a bot.
After you verify your phone number, the subsequent pages require you to provide a recovery email address, your date of birth, and gender. You must also agree to the privacy statement and terms of service. After that, you’re the proud new owner of a Google account.
How to Create a Blank Form
Now that you have a Google account, it’s time to create your first Form. Head over to the Google Forms homepage and place the cursor on the multicolored plus sign (+) in the bottom-right corner.
The plus sign turns into a purple pencil icon; click it to create a new form.
Pro Tip: You can type
forms.new into the address bar from any browser and hit Enter to create and open a new blank form automatically.
How to Customize Your Form
One of the first things you might want to do after you create a new blank form is give it a bit of personality. Google Forms lets you customize the theme and help it stand out by adding an image, color, and font style.
Click the artist’s palette at the top of the screen. From here, you can choose a header image from one of the many stock photos provided (or upload one of your own), the primary color of the form, the background color, and font style.
While customization is lacking when it comes to the theme of forms (aside from being able to upload any image for the header), Google Forms makes up for it with everything else it has to offer.
After you customize your form, close the theme options to return to your survey.
How to Choose Question Types
When you create a Google Form, you can choose the types of questions you want people to answer. Whether you want static answers from a multiple-choice form or essay-length responses, you can create your ideal form in a snap!
Click the drop-down menu next to the question field.
Then, select the type of question you want from the list.
Your choices are:
- Short Answer: Responses only require a few words. You can set rules people have to follow in their answer with data input validation. Great for email addresses or URLs.
- Paragraph: Responses require long-form answers of one or more paragraphs. Data input validation is available for this type of response, as well.
- Multiple Choice: People choose between a set of options (one per question). You can include “Other” and an option so people can input a short answer. Depending on a person’s answer, you can also send them to a different section of the form.
- Checkboxes: Responders choose one or more of a set of options, including the “Other” option for a short answer. Depending on a person’s answer, you can send them to a different section of the form.
- Drop-down: People choose their answer from a set of options in a drop-down menu (one per question). Based on the answer, you can, again, send people to another section of the form.
- File Upload: This allows the person to upload a file in response to a question. Uploaded files use Google Drive space for the survey owner. You can specify the size and type of files people can upload.
- Linear Scale: People can rate your question on a scale that starts at 0 or 1, and ends on a whole number from 2 to 10.
- Multiple Choice Grid: This creates a grid from which people can select one answer per row. Optionally, you can limit answers to one choice per column and shuffle the row order.
- Checkbox Grid: This option creates a grid from which people can select one or more answer per row. Optionally, you can limit answers to one choice per column and shuffle the row order.
- Date: Responder must choose the date as an answer to the question. The default is day, month, and year. Optionally, you can include the time in people’s answers.
- Time: Responder must choose the time of day or a duration of time.
How to Add More Questions
If you’re creating a survey or quiz, you’re likely going to include more than one question on it. Google Forms makes it super-easy to add as many questions as you want, and you can vary the types of questions. You can even separate them into sections, so everything doesn’t appear on a single page.
To add more questions to your form, click the plus sign (+).
To add another section to separate questions, click the icon that looks like two rectangles.
Optionally, you can give the section a name and description to distinguish it from other sections later on.
If you want to add any questions to a different section, it’s simple! Just drag and drop them between sections. At the end of the section, click the drop-down menu to choose where the form should direct people next.
How to Create a Quiz
Google Forms isn’t just for surveys or event invites. Teachers can use Forms to create digital quizzes, which automatically grade, send results (if enabled), and collect student responses.
It’s one of the easiest ways to give students immediate feedback and reduce the amount of time you spend grading quizzes.
Click the Settings cog at the top of the page.
Click the “Quizzes” tab, and then toggle on “Make This a Quiz.”
After you enable quiz mode, you can choose when to release a student’s mark, and what information he can see after he’s submitted his quiz. When you finish, click “Save” to exit the window.
Once you return to your quiz, select one of the questions, and then click “Answer Key” to edit the correct response, and the weight each question has in the quiz.
Here’s where you set the correct answer(s), decide how many points each one is worth, and add answer feedback for the answers to each question.
Click “Edit Question” to close the answer key and save your changes.
Note: While you can only select correct answers for multiple-choice, checkbox, and drop-down questions, you can associate any question with a point value for correctness.
How to Collaborate on Forms
Like all Google suite applications, Forms lets you collaborate with others. Anyone you share a unique link with can edit the questions in your form. This makes it a lot easier to work on the same survey with a group.
To do this, click the three dots at the top of the page, and then click “Add Collaborators.”
Next, under the heading “Who Has Access,” click “Change.”
Select “On – Anyone with the link” to generate a shareable link. Anyone with this link can then access and edit your form. Click “Save.”
Now, you can copy and share the link with anyone you want to have access to your form.
You can do a lot more with these shareable links, as they also work with other Drive files and on mobile. For a deeper look at how links work and how to generate them, check out our guide.
How to Store Responses in Google Sheets
Google Forms stores the answers to your Form automatically. It saves each response in the “Responses” tab at the top of your form and updates in real-time as people answer questions.
However, if you prefer a more in-depth way to analyze responses from your form, you can generate a new Google Sheet—or link to an existing one—to store and view answers. When viewing data stored in a spreadsheet, you can apply many types of calculations and Google Sheets’ functions to create formulas that manipulate your responses.
To do this, select the “Responses” tab, and then click the green Sheets icon.
Next, click “Create” to generate a new spreadsheet to store all your answers.
Each spreadsheet contains all responses, along with a timestamp of when the survey was completed.
If you already have a spreadsheet you want to use, you can do that, too! Instead of clicking “Create,” click “Select existing spreadsheet,” and then click “Select.”
Choose the spreadsheet you want from the list of those saved on your Google Drive, and then click “Select.”
As people answer each question in the form, their responses dynamically appear in the selected Google Sheet spreadsheet.
How to Use a Form Template
Sometimes, you don’t want to think about the format—or questions—of a survey. When that’s the case, you can use a template from the Google Forms template gallery. It has templates for everything from party invites to course evaluation forms.
To get started, head over to the Google Forms homepage and place the cursor on the multicolored plus sign (+) in the bottom-right corner.
The plus sign becomes a purple pencil and purple page icon. Click the purple page icon.
Once the window opens, choose a template from one of the three sections: Personal, Work, or Education.
Click on a template. The form opens in the current tab and saves to your Drive with all your other forms. If you want to add any questions or edit any existing ones, the templates are customizable, just like any other form.
Add the Final Touches
Before you share your form with everyone, be sure to check out the settings. From here, you can collect email addresses, create a confirmation message, limit responses to one per person, and more.
Click the Settings cog at the top of the page.
The first tab has a few settings you can enable. From here, you can collect email addresses and limit each person to one submission. You can also choose whether respondents can edit their answers after they’re submitted or see a summary chart at the end of the survey.
Note: If you enable “Limit to 1 response,” the respondent must log in with their Google account to access your form. Anyone without a Google account won’t be able to submit answers to your form. Unless you’re positive everyone has a Google account, leave this option disabled.
The “Presentation” tab has settings that show a progress bar that lets people know how far along they are in the form. You can also shuffle the question order, show a link to submit the form again (if “Limit to 1 response” is disabled), or compose a confirmation message that respondents see after they submit the form.
After you finish, hit “Save” to save the changes and return to your form.
How to Share Your Form
After you’ve completed creating a form, it’s time to send it out and get some responses. You can share the form via email, a direct link, on your social media account, or you can embed it into your website.
To get sharing, open the form you want to share, and then click “Send.”
Choose how you want to share your form from the options at the top of the pane. From left to right, your choices are: email, direct link, an embedded link for your website, Facebook, and Twitter.
This beginner’s guide will have you creating Google Forms in no time! Whether you need a survey to find out what everyone’s bringing to the BBQ, or a quiz for your physics class, Google Forms is an easy-to-use, powerful tool. And it doesn’t cost a dime.